Dancing With Our Ancestors

Highwater Pr. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781774920244.
Gr 1-4–An unnamed narrator takes readers to a Haida potlatch, learning that this is a way for this Indigenous community to celebrate their heritage. The colorful, painted illustrations set a festive tone while the text also teaches that there were once laws banning these celebrations. “Today we dance with our children so our culture cannot be stolen again,” the narrator says. The celebratory book takes a somber tone at the end to reveal that the narrator’s brother passes away, but there’s a familial comforting reminder that “he was never alone” because of the rich Haida culture and family connections. Supplementary information includes a map of the Haida region and information about how Davidson crafted the story from her own memories of a family potlach and interviews with her father.
VERDICT The message may not translate to the preschool crowd and will require further conversation about death, but this book will find a ready home in public library and elementary school library shelves in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, and anywhere looking to expand picture book knowledge of Indigenous cultures.

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